I really liked Fukuoka as a city because it still has all of Japan’s craziness but it feels like a real, working city rather than a tourist centre. It’s Fukuoka where I enjoyed arcades alongside the locals, my first karaoke booth experience, ate at a green tea themed bakery and saw a very impressive anime water show.
Please note, I don’t recommend travel at this time. This guide is intended ONLY for use only after all travel restrictions are lifted.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND IN FUKUOKA?
You could easily spend a week in Fukuoka, especially if you wanted to take day trips to nearby places such as Dazaifu, Inoshima or Nagasaki. Day trips further afield would include Beppu, Aso Volcano or Kumamoto Castle.
Two days would be long enough to see key features in the city, although you will have ample things to do locally if you stay longer.
In a one day trip to Fukuoka, you could visit a temple, the castle ruins, Canal City Shopping Centre and a Yatai Food Stall to get just a little flavour of what the city has to offer – though you’ll definitely wish your trip was longer than just one day if you’re a foodie!
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WHICH PART OF JAPAN IS FUKUOKA IN?
Fukuoka is the capital city of Kyushu, the third largest island in Japan, and is situated near Kyushu’s Northern shore. Fukuoka doubles as a well-situated gateway to exploring the rest of this region.
Honshu, Japan’s largest island, is much bigger and lies directly above Kyushu. Honshu is the island which most foreign visitors go to, as it is home to famous cities including Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Osaka.
This makes visiting Fukuoka a more exciting and local experience!
HOW TO GET TO FUKUOKA?
The most popular way to get to Fukuoka is by train or plane. Personally, I took a bullet train from Hiroshima.
You can also take the bus! I took the bus from Fukuoka’s Hakata Bus Terminal to Beppu when I explored the rest of Kyushu Island.
Click here for a 7, 14, or 21 day JR Rail Pass for the whole of Japan: Whole Japan Rail Pass
Alternatively, you can get a 3-5 day rail pass just for Kyushu: JR Kyushu Rail Pass (3 or 5 days)
HOW FAR IS FUKUOKA FROM TOKYO?
Fukuoka is 886km from Tokyo. A flight from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Fukuoka Airport takes 1.5 hours. This is usually the quickest and cheapest mode of transport between the two cities. I personally flew directly to Seoul at the end of my stay in Japan – Fukuoka is closer to South Korea’s capital city than it’s own!
By bullet train, it takes five hours to reach Fukuoka from Tokyo (approximately 23000 yen). If you have a JR Rail Pass, you cannot use the direct line, and would instead have to change at Shin-Osaka Station. This would make the total journey closer to 6-7 hours.
WHAT TO DO IN FUKUOKA?
CANAL CITY SHOPPING CENTRE
Never thought I’d recommend a mall or a shopping centre on a to-do list! Canal City Shopping Centre is beautiful and worth a stop whether you like shopping or not. The entire mall is built around an artificial canal, making it very unique. I enjoyed seeing the anime pop-ups, the Studio Ghibli store and a giant Godzilla display.
They regularly have upcoming J-pop groups performing (free to view). I saw the almost entirely older male fans singing along to cute girl groups on 2 separate occasions when just passing through… very unique, that’s for sure.
The unique anime water show is free and can be seen at Canal City Shopping centre any evening at 8pm. It is the best regular city show I’ve ever seen, with projections which tell a story over an entire building, and perfectly timed fountain displays that work alongside the animation. For example, if an anime character cries, the water appears in real time. Hard to explain but honestly worth it!
Finally, they also have regular water shows playing here throughout the day!
TEMPLES IN FUKUOKA
I visited Tocho-ji Temple to see its 5-tier red pagoda and 10m wooden Buddha Statue. I also visited Kushida Shrine, just around the corner from Canal City Shopping Centre and famous for being home to the Hakata Gion Yamasaka festival in July. https://yokanavi.com/en/festival/ This festival sees huge 10m tall decorative floats begin a procession from Kushida Shrine and take a walk through Fukuoka city. I could see the huge floats in storage when I visited! This is also the oldest shrine in Fukuoka dating back to 757.
If you have time to spare for a day trip, you can visit Nanzoin Temple. This temple is home to the largest bronze statue in the world of a reclining Buddha.
Another cultural activity in Fukuoka is visiting their folk museum, Hakata Machiya Furusato-kan. Set in a traditional townhouse, you can immerse yourself in traditional crafts and ways of life from times gone by. It has many displays and interactive exhibits.
FUKUOKA TOWER & SEASIDE MOMOCHI
You can also take the tube to the Fukuoka Tower and Seaside Momochi area. Fukuoka Tower is 234m tall with an observation deck at 134m with views of the city. It is the city’s tallest building and the perfect spot to watch a sunset.
Nearby Seaside Momochi is a unique ‘modern style’, manmade beach area and a popular spot for weddings. Momochihama Beach is a huge stretch of sand, making it popular on sunny days.
If you like surfing, you can head to Genkai Sea coastline and catch some waves.
When I visited this part of Fukuoka, there was a huge crowd of dressed-up teenage girls outside Fukuoka Yahuoku Dome, waiting for their favourite J-pop band. Merchandisers were making great money selling t-shirts sporting their favourite stars.
HAKATA CASTLE RUINS
One of my favourite things to do in Fukuoka was walking around the Hakata Castle ruins. This castle began initial construction in 1601 and took 7 years to complete. The ruins are now considered an important historic site by the Japanese government. During the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) it was the largest castle in Kyushu.
The castle is situated in Maizuru Park and it is particularly popular to visit in cherry blossom season (usually March) due to the beautiful cherry trees that line the park.
From here, I walked to neighbouring Ohori Park. Ohori is Japanese for moat, which makes the expanse of water here less of a surprise – in fact, this area used to double as a moat for Fukuoka Castle.
It was constructed in the 1920s, inspired by a classical Chinese garden style. You’ll probably spot the terrapins and giant carp enjoying the lake in the centre of this park too.
An alternative park to visit is Yusentei Park. This traditional style park is centred around a lake and was built in 1754.
WHAT TO DO AT NIGHT IN FUKUOKA
From regular bars to karaoke bars, there is a lot to do at night in Fukuoka. For a laid back night, spend your evening enjoying Fukuoka’s famous street food, view Canal City’s anime water show at 8pm and head to an arcade.
The karaoke bar I went to, as recommended by locals, was Jyankara Karaoke (which has a smiley face with a mic as it’s logo). They gave some English signage plus a HUGE selection of English songs! Staff may not always be able to speak English but they are very helpful. Plus, you get unlimited free soft drinks included in the price or alcoholic beverages and food in house for an extra cost. They are all private rooms too.
Alternatively, there are loads of karaoke bars around the Tenjin region so you won’t have a problem finding one there. It was interesting to see this was part of daily life in Fukuoka – one of the unique things people have noted about living in Japan.
Namco on the 7th or 8th floor of the Hakata bus terminal is a great arcade in Fukuoka. Namco has a big selection of games including cutting edge Virtual Reality games and a LOT of crane games. It’s also an excellent place to come and beat your friend at Super Mario. 🙂
Another good arcade option is is Taito Station next to the Tenjin train station. Taito Station is a huge amusement arcade, which also has floors dedicated to ten pin bowling, baseball cages, and even roller derby.
Tenjin area is the place to be for bars. Don’t be put off that a lot of bars and restaurants are via doors or elevators in other buildings – it can feel like you’re going the wrong way but it’s simply a different layout to what we’re used to in the UK or USA.
The Red Fox is popular with foreigners (including those who live there longer term). This is a British-style pub/bar with a great balcony. 2 Dogs is also popular.
For something which feels more exclusive, try Coniglio. This bar is a converted container with a maximum of 12 people! Back in 2018, Shota san was a great bar man there.
For whisky lovers, try Bar Kitchen, which has an enormous selection of whisky.
Witness a 1500 year old tradition by viewing sumo wrestling! Although this is a seasonal event in November, if it’s on this a great way to see an ancient Japanese spot and will make for an interesting evening out in Fukuoka.
Buy a ticket – they sell out early – and more info in English: How to see Sumo Wrestling in Fukuoka
More unique activities in Fukuoka:
What to eat in Fukuoka
Eating in Fukuoka is all about Yatai food! The Yatai food stalls are usually open from 6pm – 2am. There are food stalls everywhere around the Tenjin area and near Canal City Shopping Centre.
Fukuoka is particularly famous for ramen (specifically, Hakata Ramen), so booking a spot at one of its esteemed ramen restaurants is definitely worth doing. Ichiren Ramen is a world famous ramen house where you can tailor your ramen experience.
For something cheap and easy, head to Coco Ichiban for katsu curry – this is a famous curry house chain in Japan.
If you want more options, go to the top 2 floors of Hakata Train Station where they house many restaurants. This is a good way to try different styles of food. Also, the roof of the train station has a nice garden/shrine area.
Vegetarian Food in Fukuoka
If you eat dairy, go to the locally famous pizzeria L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele https://damichele.jp/. The chef learned to cook pizza in Napoli, Italy, in the traditional way. The main dinner menu has only two items – both vegetarian – Margherita or Marinara pizza.
You can also try green tea flavoured pastries or pancakes/waffles heaped with fruits or other toppings.
Of course, you can also eat the vegan options below too.
Vegan Food in Fukuoka
Finding vegan food was tricky in Fukuoka but there is a vegan food stall In Hakata Station with loads of delicious options for takeaway food such as bento boxes!
If you are struggling to find vegan food while walking around, it’s worth going into the 7/11 convenience store and buying vegan riceballs (onigiri) – just make sure the filling is vegan. Thankfully the filling on the label is usually in English. You can also get rice wrapped in tofu skin (which is surprisingly tasty) and a huge selection of vegan snacks such as rice crackers, sweet potato crisps and edamame. Stock up on dried fruits, nuts and bananas if you’re trying to be healthy! Soy milkshakes are also fairly easy to find.
Environmentally-aware vegans will probably notice this is a lot of plastic consumption – if you’re concerned, try booking a hostel with a kitchen. On the bright side, drinking water is safe in Japan so a regular refillable water bottle will keep your drinking habits plastic-free.
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